Thursday 17th January 2019

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Taking God Seriously In Life And In The Sacred Liturgy

July 19, 2018 Featured Today No Comments


The concept of a sense of the sacred both within the liturgy and outside it embraces several closely interrelated dispositions — reverence and solemnity are two of which we have already spoken in previous essays.
A third that warrants our attention is the disposition of “seriousness,” the perception of that which is so important that it must be treated with circumspection, sobriety, attentiveness, discretion, care, and reserve — a matter that cannot and should not be trivialized, banalized, or profaned. Seriousness is a face-to-face confrontation with reality, in particular the realities that touch upon our eternal destiny.
We inhabit a culture that scarcely knows how to be serious anymore. In her 2016 paper “Contemplative Sorrow and the Culture of Life,” the philosophy scholar Dr. Margaret Hughes cites as a symptom of this mentality the fact that a pop song proclaiming both life and death to be nothing more than one big joke was the most widely selected musical piece for funerals in England (“Contemplative Sorrow and the Culture of Life,” in Life and Learning XXVI: Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth University Faculty for Life Conference at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2016, ed. Fr. Joseph Koterski, SJ, Bronx, NY, University Faculty for Life, 2016, p. 181).
Young people are being intoxicated with music and other forms of entertainment that deny reality, that imprison them in the delusions of false and spiritually lethal pleasures, accompanied by a barrage of tasteless humor crafted to keep them from seeing anything above and beyond these transitory chimeras.
It is because of this that when faced with tragedies — a grave illness or death of a loved one or even the prospect of their own — they are totally unprepared.
The Roman soldiers’ way of dealing with Christ, of steeling themselves against Him and His teachings, was by mocking Him, by making a joke of Him. It was thus that they resisted the seriousness of Christ. For the seriousness of Christ makes those who do not want to change their lives very uncomfortable.
There is a correlation between seriousness and truth. For absolute truths require a serious response of assent. But in a culture such as ours deformed by rampant relativism, with absolute truths declared to be unknowable or uncertain, almost nothing is taken seriously. All too many modern Scripture scholars of the “higher criticism” variety have fostered a biblical relativism that has undercut the certainty of the Word of God, creating the impression that the Sacred Scriptures are little more than a “nice” collection of edifying fables and sayings.
It is our duty and our calling to take God seriously, to take His words and His Commandments seriously, to take His Church seriously. To do so, we must bear in mind who God is, who we are, and where we are going. Each human life is an epic drama, a battle for a man or woman’s soul fought against the backdrop of salvation history.
Our postmodern world would have us believe, as the villainous Shakespeare character Macbeth did, that life is nothing more than “a tale/Told by an idiot…. / Signifying nothing” (Macbeth, act 5, scene 5).
But life does have a definite and serious purpose imparted by God. In his philosophical classic Christian Ethics, Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977) observes, “A new seriousness, a new realistic character, a breath of eternity pervades the moral order in which the great drama of human existence displays itself coram Deo, in the confrontation with God” (Dietrich von Hildebrand, Christian Ethics, New York, David McKay Co., 1953, p. 460).
While the evangelists record our Lord in a quite wide variety of social settings, from meals and personal conversations to huge outdoor events, settings that are quite human, and not without moments of both tenderness and gentle humor, in all these circumstances we never see Christ engaged in wild frivolity.
In all His words and actions there is always an undercurrent of seriousness, of deep and profound purpose, of keeping the eyes fixed upon concerns that are spiritually a matter of life and death. This seriousness is likewise to be seen in the examples of the saints:
“To be sure, the saints always avoid behaving in a loose or free or easy way. On every occasion their bearing reveals them to be a ‘property’ of Christ,’ shaped and contained by His holy law. . . . ‘Sacral’ reserve . . . means setting ourselves at a distance from the world” (Dietrich von Hildebrand, Transformation in Christ: On the Christian Attitude of Mind, New York, Longmans, Green and Co., 1948, pp. 227-228).
God has bestowed upon man the capacity to transcend himself and ascend to “a consciously experienced ‘dialogue with’ God” (Von Hildebrand, Christian Ethics, p. 221). This dialogue finds its supreme expression in the sacred liturgy. The liturgy is inherently serious, for it directs our inward gaze “toward the great things that are eternally and invariably important” (Dietrich von Hildebrand, Liturgy and Personality, Manchester, NH, Sophia Institute Press, 1986, p. 99).
What is serious inhabits a higher plateau. To turn to what is serious, we must put aside and turn away from what is trivial, from whatever distracts us from the attention that seriousness demands. What is serious often requires time and effort for thought and reflection. Often it requires preparation, and demands silence, an inward silence and frequently an outward silence as well.
All these dispositions are necessary for a fully fruitful celebration of the sacred liturgy, and a fully fruitful participation in it.
When a priest is going to celebrate Mass, the Church has him put on sacred vestments, communicating to him the message that he is stepping out of what is ordinary into a sacred realm, and that he will be entering the Holy of Holies. He is entering upon what is most serious in life, and his thoughts and actions during the Mass must be cast in this light. The laity too, as participants in the liturgy, also need to make a comparable transition to the sacred in their thoughts and actions when they attend Mass.
The era of the 1960s was marked by a deep and aggressive hostility to the supernatural. Some within the Church allowed themselves to be intimidated by this secularistic culture to the point of believing that the Church should make her peace with it by bringing some of the manifestations of pop culture into the sanctuary.
Since the 1960s there have been recurrent efforts to produce supposedly “youth-oriented” liturgies, rationalized as an attempt to meet young people on their own terms. In many parishes, a casual, “recreational” approach to the liturgy set in, an approach that purposefully excluded seriousness, with traditional crucifixes, Gregorian chant, dark-colored vestments and incense rejected as too gloomy, too serious for the new “happy” style of Catholic worship.
Yet the pop culture approach to the liturgy is inherently flawed in three ways.
First, there is so much in contemporary pop culture that is diametrically opposed to the faith — the glorification of lust, vulgarity, pride, and selfishness — that invoking its spirit in the liturgy threatens an authentic communication of the Gospel.
Secondly, imitating the pop culture in the liturgy blurs the distinction between sacred worship and recreation. It thus feeds into the modern mentality (so aptly first identified by Dietrich von Hildebrand) that work is the only serious pursuit in life and that everything else is a matter of recreation and relaxation (Von Hildebrand, “Efficiency and Holiness,” in The New Tower of Babel: Essays, Burns and Oates, London, 1954, pp. 220-221).
This, I believe, explains at least in part the phenomenon of people coming to church on Sundays in sports clothes or beach clothes. And indeed, the pop culture approach to the sacred liturgy almost explicitly invites people to “come as they are,” in the casual clothes they would wear to a rock concert.
As Von Hildebrand observes, “Nothing could better obstruct the confrontation of man with God than the notion that ‘we go unto the altar of God’ as we would go to a pleasant, relaxing social gathering” (Von Hildebrand, “The Case for the Latin Mass,” Triumph, volume 1, n. 2, October 1966, Internet version accessed from the Internet Archive —
Addressing this same issue, Pope Benedict XVI observed, “The Sunday liturgy . . . will come off badly if it wants to enter the competition of show business,” for “A pastor is not an emcee, and the liturgy is not a variety show” (“Weekend Culture and the Christian Sunday,” in Joseph Ratzinger: Theology of the Liturgy: The Sacramental Foundation of Christian Existence, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2014, p. 206).
Thirdly, the assumption that the pop culture style of worship is necessary because the only way to reach young people is to “meet them where they are” virtually denies man’s capability to transcend himself, to rise above himself, in his encounter with God. Moreover, a craven conformity to pop culture will never satisfy the highest aspirations of the human heart.
Our Lord’s parable of the king who invites his people to his son’s wedding feast (Matt. 22:2-14) is very instructive in this regard. The parable unfolds as a two-part narrative, beginning with a number of those invited making light of it and choosing not to come for a variety of trivial reasons (Matt. 22:5).
In the second part of the parable the king discovers among those who have come to the wedding feast a man improperly dressed for this solemn occasion (Matt. 22:11-14).
In both cases the king responds with great wrath, for in both cases he encounters individuals who have not taken him and his son’s wedding seriously. Those who disregard the king’s invitation treat the wedding as less important than their own trivial pursuits and the man who does come treats it as unimportant by dressing casually, recreationally. They are all guilty of the same attitude of not taking the king’s invitation seriously.

St. Francis Of Assisi

A serious disposition requires us to give God fitting worship, and to recognize the deeper meaning of the everyday events in our lives, to perceive the “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) of what God is saying to us through these events.
Who can calculate just how deeply human history has been changed for the better by the decision of a young man of Assisi named Francis to turn away from his superficial world of frivolous pursuits to perceive and respond to the seriousness of Christ?

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

"I do not think it is accurate to say that the sexual abuse of minors is owed to clericalism. That would be to give the impression that there is something about the clerical state that involves the sexual abuse of minors." Part 2 .. Interview

Honest to God, I am really getting sick and tired of these caravans. What in the world is this? Just come and push your way into the country? And all of this just happening by itself? Thank you, @realDonaldTrump for standing firm against the un-American #Democrat party. #MAGA

@BethellDonna @Church_Militant @george_neumayr @JZmirak
@TaylorRMarshall @DanielCMattson @Patrick_Coffin @DictatorPope @ProtecttheFaith @TheWandererNews @LorlebergPetra Please help share and sign! This is a good way of putting pressure on Rome to do the right thing in February! on Twitter

“Swiss group launches global petition asking Catholic bishops to stop homosexual networks”

Load More...

China’s crackdown on Christians continues

Beijing, China, Jan 15, 2019 / 02:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A campaign by the Chinese government to ‘Sinicize’ religion is ongoing, with detention and indoctrination of Muslims in the far west of the country, and the closing of underground churches…Continue Reading

Cdl. Wuerl will not celebrate youth Mass prior to March for Life

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 16, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Embattled Cardinal Donald Wuerl will not celebrate the Archdiocese of Washington’s January 18 Mass for Life, which is scheduled to occur before the annual March for Life. Instead, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to…Continue Reading

Support Archbishop Viganò on his 78th birthday!

January 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, turns 78 years old today. Born in northern Italy, Archbishop Viganò was ordained to the priesthood in 1968. He spent the next several…Continue Reading

Cdl. Burke: Pope Francis’ response to abuse crisis is ‘more confusing than anything’

January 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke told German TV in a January 8 interview that Pope Francis’ response to the abuse crisis is “confusing.” Cardinal Burke stated that Pope Benedict was “very clear on this [matter of abuse],”…Continue Reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Trashes Pro-Life People: You’re “Not in Line With Society”

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s radically pro-abortion prime minister, blasted pro-life advocates Wednesday amid a nation-wide outrage about barring pro-life groups from a federal grant program. “An organization that has the explicit purpose of restricting women’s rights by removing rights to abortion,…Continue Reading

Cardinal’s trial puts French Church in glare of Catholic abuse scandal

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Lyon goes on trial on Monday charged with failing to act on historical allegations of sexual abuse of boy scouts by a priest in his diocese. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin is the highest-profile cleric to be…Continue Reading

Trudeau to issue new coin commemorating decriminalizaton of gay sex

OTTAWA, January 4, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau has granted the Royal Mint permission to release a new one-dollar coin designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his father’s decriminalization of homosexuality. Trudeau’s government approved the coin…Continue Reading


ST. LOUIS, Mo. ( – Cardinal Blase Cupich is slated to be the keynote speaker at the annual conference for a notorious dissident priests’ organization. The annual assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) will take place in June 2019, and…Continue Reading

Vatican spokesman, deputy, resign over strategy differences

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican spokesman and his deputy resigned on Monday over disagreements on strategy, ending a year of upheaval in the Holy See’s communications structure. A brief Vatican statement gave no reason for the resignations. Spokesman Greg…Continue Reading

Chinese city bans public displays of Christmas, cites ‘clean city’ as reason

LANGFANG, China, December 19, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A city in China has issued a sweeping ban on Christmas-related decorations, public celebrations, and advertisements, claiming it’s necessary to keep the city clean for an upcoming awards contest. Christmas is not an…Continue Reading

Priest: Pro-LGBT rainbow rosary promoted by Fr. Martin ‘comes from the pit of hell’

December 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – During a radio interview about the pro-homosexual “social justice” rosary that Fr. James Martin has been promoting, Fr. Donald Calloway prayed for Martin’s “radical conversion” and that the Jesuit might “repent of the things he has…Continue Reading

President Trump’s Decision to Defund Planned Parenthood of $50-60 Million Likely to Win in Court

President Donald Trump appears likely to win a court battle against the abortion giant Planned Parenthood. At issue are new guidelines for Title X grants, which fund family planning programs across the country. In February, the U.S. Department of Health and…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Vatican: Abuse summit to help bishops know ‘what they need to do’

Vatican City, Jan 16, 2019 / 06:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Just over a month ahead of the much-anticipated February meeting on sex abuse, the Vatican said the summit’s goal is for bishops to leave the meeting knowing clearly what it is they need to do to stop the abuse of minors. According to a statement by papal spokesperson Alessandro Gisotti Jan. 16, the February meeting “has a concrete purpose: the goal is that all of…Continue Reading

Archbishop Viganò urges McCarrick to publicly repent in new open letter

ROME, January 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — With a tone of fraternal and priestly charity, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has written an open letter to former-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, encouraging him to publicly repent of his sins and thus to save his soul. In the brief letter, dated January 13, 2019 and published in English and Italian (see full text below), Archbishop Viganò has also sought to persuade McCarrick that he has a unique opportunity to greatly benefit the Churc

U.S. Catholics losing trust in clergy, survey finds

Washington D.C., Jan 11, 2019 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- Trust in the clergy has declined sharply over the last year, a new Gallup poll shows. Only 31 percent of American Catholics now rate the honesty or ethical standards of the clergy as “high” or “very high.” The figures, released Friday, show a drop of 18 points since 2017. Among American Protestants, the same question produced a relatively stable number of 48 percent, a drop of…Continue Reading

Vatican News pays tribute to Cuba’s brutal communist revolution, then deletes post

ROME, January 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – An article at Vatican News, in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, disappeared from the Holy See’s website just one day after it appeared on January 1. No explanation was offered for the self-censorship of the article, which marked the rise to power of Fidel Castro and his anti-clerical Marxist government, which has long been marked by grievous human rights violations. The Vatican News article, in…Continue Reading

Wuerl knew McCarrick abuse allegations in 2004

Washington D.C., Jan 10, 2019 / 05:13 pm (CNA).- An allegation of misconduct against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick was reported to Cardinal Donald Wuerl in 2004, despite Wuerl’s insistence he knew nothing about McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct until 2018. Wuerl forwarded the report to the apostolic nuncio in Washington, DC, the Diocese of Pittsburgh said Thursday. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington confirmed to CNA that an allegation against McCarrick was presented to Wuerl while…Continue Reading


An Answer To A Sedevacantist Wannabe

By FR. JOHN T. ZUHLSDORF (Editor’s Note: Someone who is “seriously considering adopting some form of sedevacantism” wrote recently to Fr. John T. Zuhlsdorf, and Fr. Z posted his reply on his January 7 blog. The question and answer are reprinted here with permission.) + + + Quaeritur: Father, I’ll get straight to the point:…Continue Reading

Critics Warn… New Mexico Bill Could Allow “Suicide Tourism”

SANTA FE, N.M. (CNA/EWTN News) — Proposed legislation in New Mexico could legalize assisted suicide in the state, and may even allow for the prescription of deadly drugs outside the state via telemedicine, and by health-care professionals other than physicians. Deacon Steve Rangel, associate director for the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the…Continue Reading

The Case Against The Sign Of Peace At Mass

By REY FLORES O Lord Jesus Christ, Who said to Your Apostles: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you,” regarda not my sins but the faith of your Church, and deign to give her peace and unity according to Your will: Who live and reign God, world without end. Amen. — At…Continue Reading

Candor Is Not The Enemy Of Love

By DONALD DeMARCO Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, in his book Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World, makes two most important points when he reminds all those who love life that “candor is not the enemy of love” and that “real hope begins in honesty.” Candor may disturb one’s…Continue Reading

No, This Is Not JFK’s Democratic Party

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House has more women, persons of color, and LGBT members than any House in history — and fewer white males. And Thursday, January 3, the day Rashida Tlaib was sworn in, her hand on a Koran, our first Palestinian-American congresswoman showed us what we may expect. As a…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

His Bride Is The Church

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Second Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5 1 Cor. 12:4-11 John 2:1-11 In the readings for the past three weeks, the Church has given us the three traditional events which manifested our Lord’s divinity. The word Epiphany means manifestation. These manifestations took place thirty years apart, but were celebrated together because they point…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… The Wall And Abortion: No Moral Equivalency

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The March for Life event each January draws thousands of pro-life Americans to Washington, D.C., to witness for the weakest and most defenseless among us, preborn boys and girls who cannot speak on behalf of the sacredness of their lives in the face of legalized abortion which, in some cases, threatens their existence at every…Continue Reading

The Authority Of Bishops . . . The Hierarchy Of Orders In The Catholic Church

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 8 It is a well-known fact that the Church today is going through a crisis, especially in faith, as can be seen as early as 1985 when Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger allowed the publication of The Ratzinger Report. I believe that Benedict XVI was the only Pope in Church history whose mind was already well-known…Continue Reading

The Crisis Of Hope In The Modern World

By DON FIER Two opposing vices were identified last week as contrary to the theological virtue of hope: despair and presumption. Despair, on the one hand, goes against Divine Mercy; presumption, on the other hand, goes against Divine Justice. To explain, the renowned Thomist philosopher Dr. Josef Pieper describes hope as “preeminently the virtue of the status viatoris [condition or…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In a recent reply about the appropriateness of giving blessings to those coming to Holy Communion, we said that the practice was an unauthorized innovation that should be discouraged. We have since learned that Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., has instructed his priests and deacons not to give such blessings. Here is his rationale: “I do not…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. John Calabria

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Teresa of Calcutta answered a call within a call by founding the Missionaries of Charity to help the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India. Soon her apostolic endeavors to serve the most destitute of persons spread throughout the world, while she said that the greatest poverty is in the West where people do not know…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Of Egypt, Abbot

By CAROLE BRESLIN While we can understand that God is infinite, it is difficult to comprehend the stretch of such infinity. Certainly our finite minds cannot begin to comprehend it. Hence, since our minds are finite, the more we have cluttering our minds with worldly affairs such as possessions, relationships, and activities, the less time and room we have in…Continue Reading